Commissioners mull donations to Burke County Sheriff’s Office

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 2:02 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Burke County commissioners decided on Tuesday how to handle the news that Sheriff Alfonzo Williams has secured roughly $22,000 to cover employee promotions that were put in place a few weeks ago.

This all comes on the heels of county commissioners telling him his agency would run out of money in August, before the end of the fiscal year.

Private citizens donated the money to cover the pay raises. A few weeks ago, Williams developed a restructuring plan that included the retirement of some employees and consolidation of positions, while promoting other employees who gained responsibilities.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Williams wrote in an email to County Manager Merv Waldrop that his office was approached by a group of concerned citizens about promotions not being paid to deputies.

The sheriff is asking the commission to adopt a resolution to accept the money. In the letter, the sheriff told the county there would be a representative from the group to answer any questions or concerns, but things changed at the meeting.

Sheriff Williams email to County Manager Merv Waldrop
Sheriff Williams email to County Manager Merv Waldrop(wrdw)

After saying the group would have a spokesperson at the meeting, the sheriff stood at the podium saying the group wished to stay anonymous.

“We were approached by a group of citizens, who at this point, wish to remain anonymous. At least to the public and the board, but I certainly know who they are,” says Sheriff Williams.

The problem with that is there are certain Georgia laws that limit any money going to a law enforcement officer from a private entity, according to the county attorney.

After several legal questions were exposed the sheriff quickly moved to saying he would disclose the names and amounts of the donors to the county commission.

“We’ll be as transparent as the law requires,” said Sheriff Williams.

The county attorney says county commissioners don’t need to pass a resolution to accept the money from the sheriff. Once the sheriff has the check, he would need to provide information on who the money is coming from and the amount.

After that, they will have a finance committee meeting where they will make recommendations to the full board. There they will talk through any issues or legal problems that may arise.

Then commissioners told him his agency would run out of money in August, before the end of the fiscal year.

Ahead of the 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting, Williams wrote a letter to officials outlining his agency’s financial problems and defending how he’s spent his budget.

Here’s the letter he sent commissioners ahead of the meeting